Every year, up to a third of our MBA Class move to Barcelona with their partners or families to start their IESE MBA journey. What is life like as a partner of an IESE MBA student? What support does the IESE Families & Partners Club provide? In this post, we chat to partners of our MBA 2024s to get their advice on preparing for the move to Barcelona and what they love the most about their new home!
If you were to use one word, how would you describe your experience as an IESE MBA partner?
Federica Lanzilli (Italy): Amazing! You get to know people from all the world and experience their culture! There are a lot cultural events and activities organized that you can attend such as painting, ceramics and more. You feel you are part of a strong community and everybody is always kind and welcoming.
How was your adjustment to living in Spain? What were some surprises or challenges?
Estefania Bechara (Colombia): Coming to Barcelona with my 2 and a half year old at first was very challenging. We did not know the city and had no friends but with the Families & Partners Club I have made friends that will last a lifetime! There are a lot of activities for children in Barcelona, so it has turned out to be one of the greatest years with my daughter!
What do you love the most about living in Barcelona?
Bobby Vanderpoel (United States): The combination of a vibrant city, mountains for skiing/hiking, and a beautiful coastline all within an hour of each other.
Elizabeth Torczon (United States): I love that there are always people walking around and enjoying the city. Barcelona has wonderful geography – there aren’t many cities where you can be so close to the beach and mountains at the same time. The public transit system is excellent for getting around and exploring. All of the “barrios” have their own character and charm. If architecture is your thing, Barcelona has plenty of beautiful buildings to offer!
What were some of the doubts or concerns you had before you came to Barcelona? How did you manage to resolve them?
Anna Carolina Daher (Brazil): Initially, one of my concerns was the language barrier. I was unsure about my ability to communicate effectively in Spanish or English. Additionally, I was concerned about finding a support system and integrating into the local community. To overcome these challenges, I actively participated in social events and networking opportunities provided by the Partners program. This allowed me to form friendships and connections, providing a sense of belonging and support, while also having a lot of fun and improving my language skills.
Małgorzata Kowalczyk (Poland): One of my concerns was how much time we would have to spend together with my husband. I knew IESE was very demanding and many people had warned me about it. I definitely agree that MBA time can be intense, but IESE provides so many opportunities for partners to feel integrated with the rest of the student community. I highly recommend getting involved, taking part in available activities, events, attending various conferences. This time can be very edifying for a marriage, but only if both parties take an active part in it.
What role does the IESE Families & Partners Club play? How did this make a difference in your experience so far?
Bianca Stolte (Germany): Through the IESE community and especially the activities of the Families & Partners Club, it was very easy for me to “arrive & settle” in Barcelona and make new connections. During bar nights, beach days and sporty activities together, I have found new and very dear friends which have made my time here in Barcelona even more amazing. Everyone – not only partners, but also students – is very open, communicative and more than happy to connect. And it helps to have allies in the same situation.
What preparation helped you the most before your move? What advice would you give to incoming students?
Elizabeth Torczon: Take the time to go over the survival guide, and don’t be afraid to ask questions! The process of getting to Barcelona can be complicated and feel like it’s never ending. Stay calm and practice patience with Spanish bureaucracy. I would also challenge incoming students and partners to really put yourselves out there in the beginning. There will be immensely more good days than bad, but we are all human. I met most of my closest friends in the Partners club during the first few welcome sessions. Making connections from the start really came in handy when I needed a friend on those harder days.
Morolayo Lasebikan (Nigeria): Connecting with people. Don’t be alone. You will do so much better if you find a community and stay close to them. There’s a lot of information that will make your life much easier.
Finally, let’s hear from a current IESE MBA student who moved with his partner. What is your perspective and any thoughts to share?
Benjamin Torczon (MBA 24, husband of Elizabeth Torczon): The Families & Partners Club was a major factor in our choosing IESE. We both felt welcomed into the IESE community even before we arrived in Barcelona. It has been an indispensable resource for my wife in navigating a new city, in a new country, with no prior connections. She has found many wonderful friendships. Through her and these partners, I’ve come to know other MBA students I would not have otherwise met. It is an incredible gift and an integral part of our IESE experience.
Compiled by Elizabeth Torczon, Communications Lead of the IESE Families & Partners Club 2023-24. If you have any questions, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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